How to Buy the Best Ceramic Baking Dishes

Published on 02/14/2024 · 10 min readEnhance your baking arsenal! Learn how to buy the best ceramic baking dishes, focusing on durability, heat distribution, and versatility for every recipe.
Melissa Nicholson, Kitchen Expert
By Kitchen Expert Melissa Nicholson

Photo by from my point of view

Tl;dr: In this article, we look at what a ceramic baking dish is and what to consider when shopping for it, plus features to look for and how to choose the best ceramic baking dishes for your kitchen.

With plenty of ceramic baking dishes, getting some advice on selecting the best ones is helpful. Are you considering some new baking dishes for your kitchen? If so, ceramic baking dishes are an excellent option.

I use baking dishes daily. They are perfect for reheating leftovers in the oven, baking chicken, vegetables, cakes, brownies, cobblers, and my personal favorite, homemade macaroni and cheese. I also use a rectangular 9 x 13 baking dish for my lasagna. I find traditional lasagna pans a bit too big.

Follow along as I discuss everything there is to know about ceramic baking dishes. If you have further questions, you can reach out to a Curated Kitchen Expert, and they will be happy to point you in the right direction.

What Are Baking Dishes?

Photo by AS Foodstudio

Before buying a new baking dish, it’s best to understand what you’re looking for and why you need it. The term “baking dish” can be confusing since it can cover many types of dishes; however, technically, baking dishes are oven-safe pans with sides around 2in deep. They are also called casserole dishes, and the most common sizes are 9 x 13, 9 x 9, and 8 x 8, though you can find them in other shapes and sizes.

What To Consider When Buying Ceramic Baking Dishes

Any baking dish you purchase should be suitable for the recipes you love, the right size, and all-around enjoyable to use. We’ve all had that dish or cookware that sits in a drawer because it just isn’t pleasant to work with or clean.

Those pieces are a waste of time. Consider the following when choosing ceramic baking dishes: the weight, size, cleaning, and price. Follow along as we discuss each consideration.

How Much Does the Baking Dish Weigh?

Ceramic baking dish weights vary; solid ceramic pieces (stoneware) weigh more than ceramic-coated nonstick baking dishes. For example, the Le Creuset Rectangular Dish with Platter Lid weighs a whopping 8 pounds compared to the Caraway Rectangle pan, which weighs less than 2 pounds.

Some cooks prefer a heavier dish since the sturdy feeling often means a high-quality piece, while others prefer not to lift something heavy out of the oven.

What Size Do You Need?

Besides the standard sizes, the shapes of baking dishes are usually rectangular and square. Still, you’ll sometimes find them in other shapes and sizes.

To determine what size you need, think about what you most often cook and for how many people. If you feed a crowd, lean toward the 9 x 13; however, if it’s just the two of you, an 8 x 8 may suffice. Most people need a variety of sizes to cover all their needs.

I have several 9 x 13s and a couple of 8 x 8 baking dishes. My favorite is the Le Creuset Heritage Rectangular Casserole, which has fed us well with lasagnas, bread pudding, cinnamon rolls, endless casseroles, and many other recipes.

If you aren’t sure about the right baking dish size to suit your needs, reach out to a Curated Kitchen Expert any time, and they will be happy to help you.

Is the Dish Easy To Clean?

No one wants a baking dish that is a pain to clean after using it. Thankfully, most ceramic baking dishes are dishwasher safe and have a low-stick enameled surface for easy handwashing.

Nonstick ceramic baking dishes are super easy to handwash, but putting them in the dishwasher isn't recommended, so always follow the manufacturer's instructions.

What Is the Price of the Baking Dish?

Once you have determined the weight and size you need and understand what it takes to care for the different materials, it’s essential to compare prices so you can stick within your budget.

Ceramic baking dishes vary greatly in price, and you can expect to pay anywhere from $55 to $135 for a 9 x 13 size and $40 to $115 for an 8 x 8 dish.

What Are the Different Types of Ceramic Baking Dishes?

There are two types of ceramic baking dishes: solid ceramic, which is stoneware, and silicone-coated nonstick pans, which are called ceramic nonstick. Let’s take a look at both types.

Stoneware Baking Dishes

Love my Le Creuset Heritage Rectangular Casserole in oyster! Photo by Melissa Nicholson

Ceramic dishes are also called stoneware. Stoneware is a type of ceramic that is made from stoneware clay and fired at a high heat of 2200-2300°F. The result is a non-porous material that works well as a baking dish. Be careful not to confuse porcelain with stoneware. Both are ceramic, but only stoneware is food and oven safe.

Benefits:

  • Glazed for a colorful, smooth finish
  • Natural low-stick surface for easy cleaning
  • Heat is distributed evenly for even browning and no hot spots
  • Highly durable and made to last a lifetime

Be Aware:

  • Solid ceramic is heavy and takes some strength to lift from the oven.
  • Though it is durable, stoneware ceramic can chip or break if dropped on a hard surface or not treated properly.

Ceramic Nonstick Baking Dishes

Ceramic nonstick cookware and baking dishes aren’t truly ceramic but look much like it. They begin with a stainless steel or aluminum base, and then the interior of the baking dish is coated with silicone and sealed using high heat. The result is a smooth, nonstick surface that resembles ceramic.

Benefits:

  • Completely nonstick interiors allow foods to slide out easily
  • Nonstick material means the most effortless cleanup
  • Usually less expensive than stoneware

Be Aware:

  • A ceramic nonstick surface will eventually chip and scratch, and then it is no longer safe to use.
  • Nonstick baking dishes must be replaced every one to three years.
  • Since the base of ceramic nonstick baking dishes is aluminum or steel, they are unsafe in the microwave.

Features to Look for in Ceramic Baking Dishes

As with many types of dishes, baking dishes offer a variety of features. It’s helpful to understand what those are so you can choose what works best for you. The following are different features you may find in ceramic baking dishes.

Baking Dishes With Lids

Photo by Borisovstudio

Not all baking dishes have lids; however, I get excited when they do. It’s a bonus and means when I want to keep my food warm, I can place a lid on it instead of digging for the aluminum foil to cover it. Some lids multitask, like the Le Creuset Rectangular Dish with Platter Lid, which can serve as a broiler pan and serving tray.

Benefits:

  • Keep food warm while you are waiting to serve it
  • Oven-safe lid can lock in moisture as something bakes and prevent over-browning
  • Easy storage for leftovers in the refrigerator

Be Aware:

  • Some baking dishes come with lids that aren’t oven safe. Look for lids that are the same material as the dish.

Handles

Photo by Melissa Nicholson

Most baking dishes have handles; however, some do not. Personally, I wouldn’t buy a baking dish with no handles. When wearing thick oven mitts, I need large handles to grab onto.

Benefits:

  • Easy to lift in and out of the oven and to the table
  • Aesthetically pleasing — I think handles make the dishes more attractive

Be Aware:

  • Handles that are screwed in can come loose and are not as safe as handles that are molded into the ceramic baking dish.

Light or Dark Interior

The color of the surface of a baking dish affects how your food will cook. You'll prefer a dark interior if you roast vegetables and potatoes or make pizza in a baking dish. A baking dish with a light interior is best if you bake things like cakes, rolls, and casseroles.

Benefits:

  • Light interior slows the browning process for light, golden brown results
  • Dark interior browns foods quickly for crispy crusts and browned foods

Be Aware:

  • A dark ceramic interior on stoneware will crisp foods and brown them better than a dark, nonstick ceramic coating.
  • Most ceramic baking dishes are light colored, though Peugeot has dark colors.

How to Choose the Right Ceramic Baking Dishes for You

Making monkey bread — a wonderful cinnamon, sugar, and caramel ooey-gooey delight. Photo by Melissa Nicholson

Different brands offer unique styles and features in their ceramic baking dishes. It’s important to decide what works best for your kitchen and lifestyle as you choose your own. Home cooks vary from beginners to experts and everything in between. The following are examples of three people with different needs regarding baking dishes and my recommended products for them. Reading their stories may help you as you navigate your next ceramic baking dishes.

Damian

Damian lives alone and spends his weekends out with friends, seldom hosting anyone at his place. He only has a few pieces of cookware to meet his daily needs. Lately, he has discovered baking things like cakes, cobblers, and other sweet treats, but he only has a 9 x 13 aluminum pan that someone gave him long ago. It’s too big for his needs, and the aluminum is tough to clean. He’s on a tight budget and doesn’t want to invest too much.

Features Damian should look for:

  • A ceramic baking dish in a smaller size, like an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9
  • A baking dish with a low-stick or nonstick interior for easy cleaning
  • A budget-friendly dish that is also good quality

Ceramic baking dish examples: Peugeot Appolia Ceramic Square Baker, 10-inch Peugeot Appolia Rectangular Baker

Trevor

Trevor has a busy career and a busy family. One of his favorite ways to relax is by making the family dinner on the weekends. He enjoys new recipes and considers himself a cooking and baking enthusiast. The family prefers classic family-style meals. Some of their favorites are baked ziti, meatloaf with roasted potatoes, and chicken casserole. He’s ready to upgrade the baking dishes and loves the look and feel of stoneware but also wants the convenience of nonstick material for those nights they are eating quickly and running to school events.

Features Trevor should look for:

  • Multiple pieces in different sizes
  • A variety of stoneware and ceramic nonstick
  • Dishes with low-stick interiors and at least one nonstick 9 x 13

Ceramic baking dish examples: Staub 3-pc. Ceramic Baking Dish Set, Caraway Ceramic-Coated 9 x 13, Le Creuset Heritage Rectangular Casserole

Courtney

Courtney is a stay-at-home mom whose children are now grown, giving her time to focus on her true passion: cooking. Her years of feeding the family helped her hone her cooking skills, and her collection of baking dishes is extensive, but many pieces are from early on in her marriage. She is ready to donate them and stock the kitchen with new, beautiful, high-quality ceramic baking dishes. Though the kids are gone, they visit often, and Courtney and her husband host dinner parties frequently.

Features Courtney should look for:

  • Multiple baking dishes in a variety of sizes
  • High-quality dishes that are enjoyable to cook with and easy to clean
  • Freezer-friendly baking dishes so she can cook ahead of time and bring out a meal when needed
  • Dishes that easily go from oven to table

Ceramic baking dish examples: Le Creuset Rectangular Pan with Platter Lid, Le Creuset Heritage Square Casserole, Le Creuset Heritage 3-piece Baking Dish Set

Find the Best Ceramic Baking Dishes for You

As you choose the best ceramic baking dishes for yourself, remember to consider the weight, size, cleaning, and price of the dishes you look at. Also, keep in mind any features you want, such as lids, handles, and the color of the interior. For further assistance regarding ceramic baking dishes, feel free to reach out to a Curated Kitchen Expert to help you choose the best ceramic baking dishes.

Curated experts can help

Have a question about the article you just read or want personal recommendations? Connect with a Curated expert and get free recommendations for whatever you’re looking for!

Shop Kitchen on Curated

Le Creuset Heritage Rectangular Casserole · 4 QT
$135.00
Le Creuset Rectangular Dish with Platter Lid
$125.00
Peugeot Appolia Ceramic Rectangular Baker
$69.00

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Peugeot Appolia Ceramic Square Baker
$39.00
Le Creuset Heritage Square Casserole · 2.5 QT
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Peugeot Appolia Ceramic Rectangular Baker
$44.00
Viking Professional 5-Ply Stainless Steel Casserole Pan
$419.99
Viking Nonstick Baking Sheet Set · 0.8mm · 3 Piece Set
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